The Sikorsky S-92 on the static display here at the Singapore Airshow is a civilian helicopter, even though from the distance the gray paint job makes it look quasi-military. But step a little closer and the gray isn’t uniform. In fact, the helicopter is covered with signatures by visitors all over the world who have viewed this unique S-92, which embarked on a nine-month Legacy of Heroes Tour back in October. Its mission: “To celebrate everyday heroes and touch the lives of the people they serve and protect.” (Watch video.)
“Igor Sikorsky’s desire was to build an aircraft to help people,” said Joel Vigue, a Sikorsky production test pilot who flies the Heroes S-92 with production test pilot, Jamie Wittmeyer. Since the first civilian helicopter rescue on Nov. 29, 1945, in a Sikorsky R-5, Sikorsky helicopters have saved an estimated two million lives. “This tour is to honor our roots,” said Wittmeyer.
The Heroes S-92 started from Sikorsky’s factory in Pennsylvania and made stops along the U.S. eastern seaboard before being shipped to Malaysia. Stops followed in Thailand and Indonesia before the crew flew the S-92 to the Singapore Airshow. Following the show, the helicopter will be shipped to India where it will fly from Chennai to Bengalaru, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and New Delhi.
More than 150 S-92s are in service and, naturally, the S-92 Legacy of Heroes crew is showing off the helicopter’s search-and-rescue capabilities during the tour. One of the unique features of the S-92 in search-and-rescue configuration is its ability to fly itself to a predetermined spot during a rescue and hold that spot while the crew saves the endangered people. Once hovering over the desired spot, the crewmember operating the Goodrich rescue hoist in the cabin can move the helicopter around using a control button next to the hoist, moving the helicopter fore, aft or sideways at up to 15 knots. These features dramatically lower pilot workload during SAR missions. “It’s very capable in demanding situations,” said Wittmeyer.
Sikorsky is developing an automatic oil-rig approach as part of the automatic flight control system. Testing is done and certification should take place shortly. An anti-torque pedal hold system keeps the ball centered as long as the pilots keep their feet off the pedals, but shuts off when a microswitch senses that the pilot wishes to push on a pedal and control the tail rotor blades manually.